Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Conferring the Red Biretta

Today the Pope has formally bestowed the red biretta on his recent appointments to the College of Cardinals. As he does so he says:

"To the praise of God, and the honour of the Apostolic See
receive the red biretta, the sign of the cardinal's dignity;
and know that you must be willing to conduct yourselves with fortitude
even to the shedding of your blood:
for the growth of the Christian faith,
the peace and tranquility of the People of God,
and the freedom and spread of the Holy Roman Church."

In 1946 Pope Pius XII prophesied as he gave him his biretta that the newly created Cardinal József Mindszenty of Esztergom (1892-1975) would be the first of that group of new members of the Sacred College to shed his blood for the church - a prophetic utterance that proved true in 1948-9 with the Cardinal's imprisonment and torture..


Image: StLouis review

As I posted recently in Creating Cardinals the ceremonial for the occasion has been revised in an essentially traditional way.

Coinciding with today's events a friend has sent me a link to a blog article which although written, as a result of translation, in slightly awkward English, but nonetheless comprehensible, about the practice before 1969 of various lay heads of state imposing the red biretta. The best example known in the post-war period with that bestowed by the French President Vincent Auriol on Cardinal Roncalli who was, of course, to become Pope John XXIII. The article can be read here.

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